As many of you know, it takes a lot to raise my eyebrows.
This sure does:
Nature 413, 498-501 (2001)
Bose-Einstein condensation on a microelectronic chip
W. HANSEL, P. HOMMELHOFF, T. W. HANSCH & J. REICHEL
Although Bose-Einstein condensates of ultracold atoms have been experimentally
realizable for several years, their formation and manipulation still impose
considerable technical challenges. An all-optical technique that enables
faster production of Bose-Einstein condensates was recently reported.
Here we demonstrate that the formation of a condensate can be greatly
simplified using a microscopic magnetic trap on a chip5. We achieve
Bose-Einstein condensation inside the single vapour cell of a magneto-optical
trap in as little as 700 ms--more than a factor of ten faster than typical
experiments, and a factor of three faster than the all-optical technique.
A coherent matter wave is emitted normal to the chip surface when the trapped
atoms are released into free fall; alternatively, we couple the condensate into
an 'atomic conveyor belt', which is used to transport the condensed cloud
non-destructively over a macroscopic distance parallel to the chip surface.
The possibility of manipulating laser-like coherent matter waves with such
an integrated atom-optical system holds promise for applications in
interferometry, holography, microscopy, atom lithography and quantum
The picture of a little row of condensates being transported on the
conveyor belt just blows me away.
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